Usually I avoid overcrowded places at all costs, but Venice during Carnival is definitely an exception. The city comes to life with celebration; stalls of colorful masks line the streets as the bustle of people moves toward the piazza.
People make their way through the winding streets and float along gondolas through the canals, all headed toward Piazza San Marco. However, the fun is getting there. While living abroad in Austria, I journeyed to Venice for Carnival. With hesitance sparked by my fear of swarms of people in tiny spaces, I signed up to join a Venice-bound busload of other college students for a day during Carnival. It turned out to be one of my favorite days in memory and the perfect way to see this historic city. We arrived by 8 AM in the early morning light, and the streets were already busy with bleary-eyed people ready for another day of Carnival shenanigans. I had no idea where we were going, just that we had eight hours to explore this city. Once swept into the crowd one could not help but move with the tide. I am normally the person who spends hours studying maps before venturing to a new place, so I had to just let go, look at land marks so that I could make my way back to the bus, and trust the chaos.
It took 4-5 hours of walking to get to the piazza. However, we stopped and ate pasta, looked at all the colorful stalls, and drank mulled wine along the way. Once at the famous piazza, we ambled through the crowd to look at the elegantly dressed Italians in masks and costumes. As the sun began to lower in the sky, more costumed locals joined the crowd, and the general volume of celebration went up.
I think day-tripping is the perfect way to visit Venice during Carnival. Staying there would make rest impossible.
Did this inspire your marvelous wanderings? Let me know!